Congressman Poe Speaks On The Global Anti-Poaching Act

Around the world, big game like elephant and rhinos are getting slaughtered. Ivory-seeking poachers have killed 100,000 elephants in 3 years. The black rhino population has dropped 95 percent since the early 20th century. In 2007, there were 12 rhinos killed in South Africa; but in 2013 and 2014, over 1,000 were killed each year.

Regarding elephants, this is a photograph of one of the oldest elephants in existence. Satao was his name. He was in his forties. He was killed for his tusks. They were so long, they drug on the ground.

That is what is happening to the elephant population in Africa. They are killed not for their meat; they are killed for their tusks.

Most of the people doing the poaching are really not the locals who poach for an animal to eat. That is not most of the poaching, although that does occur.

Most of those doing the poaching are transnational criminal organizations.

The criminal groups come from places like China and Vietnam. China is the number one destination for elephant tusks. Vietnam is the number one world destination for rhino horns.

Criminal cartels that are involved in this trafficking don't just traffic wildlife. They traffic drugs, weapons, and people. It is all the same group of criminals that are trafficking. They traffic anything for money.

The wildlife trafficking trade has exploded in recent years because the criminals understand that profits they get from trafficking wildlife are bigger than what they get for trafficking drugs.

Also, the chances of getting caught are less and, if caught, the punishment is less. So that is why wildlife trafficking is on the increase.

A rhino horn is now worth about $27,000 per pound. That is twice the value of gold and platinum and more than cocaine and diamonds.

It should come as no surprise that terrorist groups are involved in this as well. I held a hearing in my subcommittee in February on the connection between wildlife trafficking and terrorist groups. The witnesses testified that terrorists are one of several groups involved in wildlife trafficking. And, of course, they do it all for the money. They use the money, as Mr. Engel said, to buy bullets and guns to cause terror in Africa and other places in the world.

Just over the weekend, al Qaeda's Somali affiliate, Al-Shabaab, released photographs of its fighters hunting and killing a giraffe. The photograph of the giraffe that was killed in Africa is a recruiting poster for jihad.

Al-Shabaab put this on its recruiting poster. A recent video says: Terrorism is in my nation, and we do it for tourism. Therefore, come and help us in jihad. That is a recruiting poster, the killing of wildlife in Africa.

Killing of elephants is a main revenue source for the Lord's Resistance Army, led by the infamous Joseph Kony.

By going after wildlife traffickers, we are going after transnational criminal organizations and terrorists.

But we also must call out, as this legislation does, corrupt government officials that give a wink and a nod for allowing the poaching, in their countries, of rhinos, elephants, and others.

This isn't just a wildlife problem. It is a national security problem. This bill will give our law enforcement the authority it needs to be able to go after criminals and terrorists and help foreign governments save rhinos and elephants from extinction.

If we don't stop wildlife trafficking of rhinos, elephants, and other animals by terrorist groups, for organized criminal activities, the only places our kids and grandkids are going to see rhinos and elephants are at the zoo or in a Disney cartoon.

And that is just the way it is.


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